Rivals offer case for SPL to accept Dundee
Updated Monday, 16th July 2012
They could scarcely have done much more. As far as making a case to the SPL goes, this was a plug of the highest order.
An eagerly-awaited Dundee derby not only brought some much-needed respite from the tiring uncertainty affecting the future of the Scottish game, it also proved overwhelmingly that having these two clubs back competing in the top flight next season would surely be for the greater good.
For that to happen, common sense must first prevail in today’s crunch vote at Hampden to decide which “Club 12” will be formally invited to take the place of embattled newco Rangers.
Dundee firmly believe they should make the step up having finished runners-up in last season’s First Division and their city counterparts are backing them every inch of the way.
Few could argue otherwise that having four City of Discovery derbies in the new campaign would be a wonderful asset to a league crying out for colour, excitement and pulling power as they desperately try to come to terms with the financial fall-out of the Ibrox club’s demotion.
The proof came in the shape of 10,121 rival – but good-natured – supporters who joined forces at Dens Park at the weekend to show what the SPL has been missing for some time following a tortuous summer dominated by boardroom wrangling and divisive splits which couldn’t have portrayed a worse image to anyone looking in from outside this country
In fact, any neutral still swithering over who should take the place of newco Rangers would have been given food for thought at least, had they caught even a glimpse of events on Tayside at the weekend.
It was a timely reminder of the deep traditions within the city and their joint yearning to make the Dundee derbies a permanent feature again in the calendar.
Dunfermline have been making a robust case for being reinstated after relegation, but Dundee did their bit by hosting such a bumper crowd for what was essentially a pre-season friendly with nothing more than pride at stake.
All those present were given a taste of what may lie in store in the season ahead and it was the perfect tonic, as opposed to the unwelcome sour grapes which have ravaged our game in recent months.
The talk afterwards soon turned towards by the prospect of an 18 August re-match when these two teams would meet, this time in a competitive derby, should Dundee be promoted having finished as runners-up last season in the First Division, and even at this stage there’s an air of excitement.
It’s a date indelibly marked in the minds of those on opposite sides of the Dundee divide, a chance to sample the sizzling atmosphere which they’ve been starved of since Dundee made the drop down to the First Division seven years ago.
Richie Ryan, the Dundee United midfielder, experienced derby day for the first time since moving to Tannadice and enjoyed every minute of his baptism, which was helped by skipper Jon Daly’s hat-trick.
And he hopes to get the opportunity to do it for real when the new season gets underway.
Ryan said: “There was a great atmosphere which is something I’d love to sample again. Hopefully we will get the chance to do it in the SPL within the next three weeks if that’s what happens. To have three or four Dundee derbies next season would be special for everyone connected with both clubs. It must be tough for Dundee. They’ve had to live with not knowing which division they’ll be in next season, but hopefully that’s about to change soon.”
On the opposite end of the divide is former Celtic and Scotland goalkeeper Rab Douglas. The 40-year-old felt it was the ideal pick-me-up as Scottish Football faces up to life without any Old Firm derbies. Douglas said: “I think the city has been starved of it. It maybe showed there is life outside the Old Firm. It’s rivalry at its best with the two stadiums being so close to each other and a full house is the icing on the cake. Dundee won’t have to wait too much longer to find out where they’ll be playing their football in the new season, but, on this evidence, Scottish Football would surely benefit if Saturday’s friendly proved not to be a one-off .
Dundee: Douglas; Irvine, McGregor, Gallacher, Trialist, Riley, O’Donnell (Webster 53), McBride (McIntosh 43), Conway, Davidson, Baird. Subs: Gibson, Benedictus, Reid, Trialist
Dundee United: Cierznik; Watson, McLean, Gunning, Dillon; Flood (Dow 75), Ryan (Millar 71), Rankin (Gauld 87), Mackay-Steven (Armstrong 54); Daly, Russell (Gardyne 54). Subs: Banks, Armstrong, Hilson, Barrat.
Referee: B Madden. Attendance: 10,121.
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